Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

Adobe Announces a Flex / Ajax Bridge

Category: Flash

Adobe has announced a new Flex / JavaScript bridge.

Adobe Labs logo

We talked before about Adobe’s Flash / JavaScript bridge. They’ve taken it to the next level with a new Flex / JavaScript bridge. Whereas the original integration kit allowed for invocation of ActionScript functions and passing simple primitive values, this new bridge enables seamless integration of Flex applications with the browser’s JavaScript environment. The Flex DOM and ActionScript environment can be completely manipulated from the JavaScript environment and vice versa, and complex types can be marshalled across seamlessly. So now Dion’s crazy post on using Flash’s E4X API to do JavaScript DOM just got a wee bit more practical. ;-)

Use cases for this bridge include interacting with a Flex application embedded on a web page (manipulate widgets, read UI values, etc.), drawing on a Flash canvas using JavaScript in the browser environment (can you say wrapping the canvas API for IE 6?), and, well, utilizing any of the capabilities of ActionScript / Flex from within the browser.

The bridge is alpha code and will be made available around 5:00 pm PST tonight from Adobe Labs. It has been tested on Firefox 1.0 and 1.5 as well as IE6, and they plan to make it work on all modern browsers.

We Ajaxians have long talked about using Flash / Flex to create components for use within Ajax applications, and this new Flex-saavy bridge makes this scenario that much easier. Now that Flash 8.5 introduces a Just-In-Time compiling ECMAScript engine under the covers, technology that makes it seamless to utilize this runtime environment from within the slower interpreted browser environment is very interesting.

Adobe also mentioned an upcoming “Ajax Client for Flex Data Services” that builds on top of the bridge to make it easy for Ajax applications to do server push (courtesy of the Flash runtime), off-line caching, etc.

Along with Adobe’s nascent Apollo project to enable desktop application development with Flash, Adobe’s doing some very interesting things. Keep it up.

Posted by Ben Galbraith at 3:05 pm
23 Comments

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pff, give me flash 8 for linux, until then you can keep your flex stuff

Comment by wooyay — March 7, 2006

Yeah, really interesting stuff. Similar to ALFAX http://www.aflax.org.. is there some opportunity for marriage of the best of these two projects? (Any thoughts Paul?) I like this whole idea because it plays to the idea of incremental enhancement of our HTML apps.

Comment by Alexei — March 7, 2006

I’m working with Adobe for a merged solution. Stay tuned.

Comment by Paul Colton — March 7, 2006

Great update, thank you.
Macromedia/Adobe’s tools keep getting better. I am very grateful they have the proper mindset — not to shun/push away open source, but to embrace it. This company truly values their customers, and the the community’s input and feedback. All of this adds compelling reasons to adopt Flex, apart from some who have said that AJAX would eat into Flex’s market share. The two are very different and in some ways complementary, and thankfully Adobe recognizes that. Being able to seamlessly combine Flex, AJAX on the client-side and Coldfusion to rapidly develop server-side logic makes me really excited for the present and future.
As a developer, it’s great to be aligned with Adobe.
Mark Holton

Comment by Mark Holton — March 7, 2006

Mark… Coldfusion? Do people still use that? What a spaghetti-infested platform that is. There are 2 viable server side platforms for the future: Java, and .NET.

Adobe is doing some neat stuff in the client side arena, but ya’ll need to start developing real layered / scalable architectures (i.e. learn a real language) on the server. :-) Rails, Coldfusion, PHP… come on.

Sorry, I am mister cynacism.

Comment by Ryan Gahl — March 7, 2006

Edit for typo: should be “cynicism”

Comment by Ryan Gahl — March 7, 2006

[…] Adobe Announces a Flex / Ajax Bridge: “ […]

Pingback by Timmy’s Original Recipe » Blog Archive » Adobe Announces a Flex / Ajax Bridge — March 7, 2006

I happily choose to develop in Coldfusion over .NET because of it’s versatility, the ability to produce robust server-side applications in a relatively short period of time, and the ability to leverage ColdFusion components into SOAP web-services, among other reasons.

For those who don’t know, ColdFusion MX is built on underlying J2EE technology. All CF apps can be run on any J2EE compatible servers. All applications scripted in ColdFusion compile to java byte code. So the statement supporting java but not Coldfusion doesn’t make a great deal of sense. (However, coupled with the “y’all” and the .net support statement, it somewhat does though :) )

There are 3 popular, and somewhat mature CF frameworks (Fusebox, Mach-II, and ColdSpring) which enable rapid development of object-oriented-like applications using the (optionally, but preferred) Model-View-Controller paradigm.

Ruby on Rails, although I haven’t developed in it yet, is one language I find intriguing, given some of the examples I’ve seen developed with it, and what I have been able to read and listen to on Podcasts regarding its integration with AJAX.

I won’t respond to any more comments here, but thanks again for the info on the Flex/Ajax bridge.

cheers-

Comment by Mark Holton — March 8, 2006

> All CF apps can be run on any J2EE compatible servers.

Are you using Java? Are you creating distinct application layers, separating markup from server “script”, Data access from Business Logic?

> which enable rapid development of object-oriented-like applications

?huh? object-oriented-like? What is that?

> Ruby on Rails, although I haven’t developed in it yet, is one language I find intriguing…

Of course it is, it’s another scripting language that encourages people to put their markup in the same file as (and interspersed within) their server code. It’s easy to learn how to make a web page or a couple pages in these scripting languages and string them together with spaghetti code and call it an application. That’s easy, and that’s why it’s so popular.

I’m sorry if I offended anyone personally. I was surprised to hear Coldfusion being used seriously (still).

Adobe rocks… The Flex/Ajax bridge will enable a lot of very cool stuff on the client. Coldfusion, not so much. But, it’s easy, so you know… mor power to you.

Comment by Ryan Gahl — March 8, 2006

Mark, I’m not implying that your skills as a developer are lacking (nor anyone that uses these scripting platforms). I am positive you could learn Java or .NET and true n-tiered architectural development, and be very good at it (yes, .NET is a fine platform… to knock it just because M$ made it is pretty naive, albeit trendy these days — I use both).

I’ve just been biting my tongue for a long time now with all this proliferation of languages that encourage practices like mixing server code with markup. You got the brunt of my finally “lashing out”. So did anyone reading these comments hoping to find relevant conversation on Adobe’s Flex/Ajax bridge.

I apologize.

Comment by Ryan Gahl — March 8, 2006

> Are you using Java?

Maybe. You can access/use Java (and JSP taglibs) directly inside CFMX. Mix and match as your skillset (or your teams!) allows.

> Are you creating distinct application
> layers, separating markup from server “script�, Data access
> from Business Logic?

Yes.

Many people who bag on CFMX are not familiar with the latest releases. Things have changed. If it was really about purity of a language, would there be an Ajax revolution right now centered on Javascript? No. It’s about productivity and user experience and ColdFusion MX can provide both of those things in a substantially shorter amount of time than .Net and Java assuming all other things are equal (skilled developer, etc). Users don’t care what it’s written in; they care that they have it and that it helps them.

Adobe’s toolset is getting better and better and I think it’s great that the product is adopting more deployment options and integration points.

Comment by Brian G — March 8, 2006

Hmm, my comments from yesterday have been removed? Is it possible they were removed due to the comment spam that was also added yesterday?

Comment by Phill Kenoyer — March 8, 2006

I personally like and dislike Coldfusion at the same time. I find for one it’s just not very readable (well, cfscript is ok). But its good at RAD.. quick and dirty. I used to work in the enterprise solutions department of a major west coast university and they used CF for *everything*, and was it satisfactory software? sure. It was fine. Best of all, they could hire cheap co-op students to do coding who were able to learn and crank out half decent functionality in a summers worth of work.

But that’s not the issue here. Flex is a whole new ball game, and I think that the loose coupling with the server makes it a very attractive platform, particularly for enterprise development and component based development. If only we can break down some of the psychological barriers that exist in the enterprise for flash.

Comment by Alexei — March 8, 2006

MVC = separation of data logic, presentation, and control… reduces duplicated efforts, centralizes control, makes the app more easily modifiable. I mentioned MVC in the context of ColdFusion, but perhaps it was missed.

Fusebox as a means to implementing MVC w/in CF has also been around since 1997. For those who want to check it out: http://www.fusebox.org (Last I heard a week ago or so, Version 5 is approaching release.)

One more item to add to the good points by Brian G, for any interested. When using a framework like Fusebox, it’s straightforward to unit test your server side ColdFusion code, if you’re developing in an enterprise enviroment. http://cfunit.sourceforge.net/

Thx guys-

Comment by Mark Holton — March 8, 2006

Alexei, while it has the ability to rapidly prototype, there is unquestionably the ability to build robust, rock solid, server side apps using the proper methodologies. It really boils down to the knowledge and skill of the developer. Despite 4 years of .NET experience, I personally choose to develop in ColdFusion these days. To me, it’s a more capable and efficient tool.

What has me excited is the coupling of CF with incremental client side improvements via browser-native AJAX technologies. This post regarding the bridge to Flash and Flex opens the door wider to all of our imaginations. It’s exciting in whatever server-side product you choose to develop in.

Comment by Mark Holton — March 8, 2006

article:

“Longtime Adobe Developer Gives Insider’s View of Flex & AJAX
The newest addition to the Flex Framework family is the Flex AJAX Bridge (FAB)”
http://br.sys-con.com/read/192086.htm

Comment by Mark Holton — March 8, 2006

As far as the CF viablilty conversation goes… I think that each language has its strengths and weaknesses. CF is by far the most capable web language. Since CF 6 and ColdFusion Components and the introduction of true MVC / OO programming to the CF platform, I really don’t think anything can beat it on the web. For Windows apps or Client/Server apps use .NET it will work great.

Just my two cents.

– JS

Comment by Joshua Scott — March 23, 2006

[…] Ajaxian » Adobe Announces a Flex / Ajax Bridge […]

Pingback by Simon Whatley » The ColdFusion Podcast Episode 18 - Project Management — March 25, 2006

[…] More info: Ely’s Demo and blog post. More coverage by Ajaxian and Dave Johnson […]

Pingback by Andre’s Blog » Blog Archive » What did AJAX say to Flex? — March 29, 2006

these kinds of debates where people make sweeping statements about the incapacity of one platform or another, or how one platform is “by far the best” for one task or another – well i can’t help but suspect the authors of such statements rarely develop great apps. how’s that for a sweeping statement? well – i guess what i would like to emphasize is that we’d all benefit more from talking about what can be done with various platforms that what can’t. they’re TOOLS – not nation-states.

Comment by Dan Newman — June 4, 2006

[…] Liens utiles : Les dernières nouveautés de Flex Quand Flex rejoint Ajax (FABridge). Le manuel de développement Flex 2.0 par Adobe (et plus précisément la section sur le traitement d’images). […]

Pingback by 20 notes sur » Blog Archive » Contrôle d’Images Flex — June 20, 2006

Actually, Adobe does have a great J2EE platform story called LiveCycle. Dev site is:
http://www.adobe.com/devnet/livecycle/

Comment by Duane Nickull — February 19, 2007

FLEX with Livecycle Data Services with CF backend serving the data is a super RIA solution. The real-time push subscribe capabilites of FLEX also look very interesting plus the integration with AJAX opens up many possibilities. The future indeed looks great for Adobe/Macromedia. Hope they keep it up.

Comment by Bob — August 15, 2007

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